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Are you interested in health on campus? Interested in medicine in general? Well, so are we! We’re the Student Health Advisory Committee, or SHAC, and this is the first of our bi-monthly columns that will focus on the health issues you care about.

Who are we? SHAC is a student group on campus that works closely with MIT Medical to promote a greater awareness of various health issues important to the MIT campus.

What do we want to do with this column?

— Address specific health concerns and questions within the campus community. How effective is an annual flu vaccine? What is a healthy weight? How often should I see a general internist? What should I do to help a depressed friend?

— Provide information on coverage under MIT’s student health insurance plans at MIT Medical. What’s covered? What’s not? What are the differences between the various insurance options?

— Explain how to use MIT Medical services. How do I schedule an optometry appointment at MIT Medical? Do students need to have a primary care physician? If I also have other insurance coverage, how can I transfer relevant medical information to healthcare providers here?

— Provide a forum for discussion between students and MIT Medical regarding health care on campus. This would include student opinion pieces on MIT Medical’s policies and services and interviews with administrators and health care providers.

— In addition to these goals, we hope to help students get to know MIT Medical staff and healthcare providers on a more personal level, keep the student body informed of upcoming health-related events and opportunities, and promote student involvement in campus health.

Test your health knowledge right now with this quick quiz!

1. True or False: Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, is covered as an immunization for female students enrolled in the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan.

2. Who should I contact if I have concerns or questions about my experience at MIT Medical?

3. Once I file a request to get a copy of my medical record mailed to me, how long do I have to wait to receive it?

4. What is the main idea of the proposal for universal health coverage in Massachusetts?

5. How significant a problem is the lack of health insurance in America?

How did you do?

1. True! Since January 1, 2007, Gardasil has been covered as an immunization for females older than nine who are enrolled in the Student Extended Insurance Plan or Affiliate Extended Insurance Plan. Like other immunizations covered under these plans, members are required to pay a $20 co-payment per injection. Gardasil requires three doses of the vaccine to be effective, so the total co-payment amount for the entire three-dose series is $60.

2. Patients should feel free to communicate directly with their clinician or other care provider regarding any concerns. However, patients can also discuss concerns with a third party, through MIT Medical’s patient advocate program. The program is designed to help patients resolve any issues that emerge in their interactions with MIT Medical. More information on the patient advocate is available online at http://web.mit.edu/medical/g-advocate.html.

3. Following review of your request, copies of your record will be mailed to you within 30 days. To get a copy of your medical records, you must complete and sign the “Authorization for Disclosure of Patient Health Care and Information” form (available as a PDF at http://web.mit.edu/medical/pdf/mr5007.pdf), and then follow the directions on the form to fax or mail it to the Medical Records Service. There may be a fee for release of your medical record.

4. The Massachusetts plan for universal health coverage would make it possible for about 99 percent of the state’s adult population to have some kind of health insurance, significantly lowering the current uninsured population. Under the proposal, most residents will be required to enroll in a health insurance plan or face fines or tax penalties. The plan uses a sliding scale based on income to set limits on the premiums people would have to pay for coverage and increases state subsidies. The proposal would cost the state approximately $213 million.

5. There are more than 46.1 million uninsured people in America today, and this number has been growing since 2000 due to a decline in employer-sponsored insurance. More than two-thirds of these uninsured Americans can be classified as “low-income,” and 80 percent are from working families. Uninsured individuals are more likely than insured people to delay seeking medical care, and these delays result in sicker patients and costly, but often preventable, hospitalizations and treatments.

Sources: MIT Medical, http://web.mit.edu/medical and the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Kaiser Family Foundation, http://www.kff.org/uninsured/.

We want to hear from you! If you have any health- or health care-related questions you would like to see answered, just send us an e-mail at askshac@mit.edu.